Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg – Why Is Everything Made In China? (VIDEO)

It seems like everything we buy is made in China these days. We import cheap goods, but we export good jobs. We should just produce everything we need locally and keep the factories and jobs at home. Dead Wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do The Olympics Help Or Hurt Their Host's Economy?

The Olympics are, for the most part, a welcome two week distraction and one of the rare instances where the focus of the entire world is on one place at one time. The games give each country’s best and brightest the chance to prove they have what it takes to compete on a world stage. It gives the winningest athletes the chance to be recognized for feats the vast majority of us could never dream of achieving. However there is one place the Olympics falls short. Hosting the games does not bring the economic boon that is promised. Preparations by the host cities are now well in the tens of billions of dollars for facilities that go vastly unused after the games conclude. In this global age, it’s time to rethink how the Olympics are conducted without having to nearly bankrupt a host site.

The time where having a single host city hold the games is over. The cost to host the upcoming games in Rio has ballooned over budget to nearly $16 billion dollars. The costs to host the winter games two years ago in Sochi and 4 years ago in London came in around the same threshold. The buildings in Sochi are now largely abandoned and the economic benefits from the London games are still debated. Why are we holding on to this archaic structure that all the games must be held in the same locale? If London is a rare exception of having seen some benefit from being the host city, was there not a better way to invest $16 billion to see a more sizeable return?

The appeal of hosting the Olympics makes sense in theory. The eyes of the world are upon you to display your country. The money from tourism will boost the local economy. Maybe the substantial investment in infrastructure will spur a renaissance and pay off down the road. It all sounds appealing, but now that we have better ways to track people’s spending habits, it all goes out the window. In Beijing tourism dropped significantly in 2008 as travelers actually made it a point to avoid the city, as well as China altogether. It’s estimated that it will take 30 years to pay off the debt created by hosting those games. In London, 2004, around 90% of ticket sales were purchased by citizens of the U.K., meaning that spending was simply redistributed and not actually created. The money spent by Brits to go see the games is disposable income that would have stayed in the local economy whether the Olympics were being held in London or not. Those are the negatives of games that went well, now let’s take a look at this year.

Rio, a beautiful ocean side city on many travelers’ bucket list. It may be on fewer travelers’ lists after the next few weeks. One of the largest arguments for hosting the Olympics is that it’s essentially an advertisement to the world for your city. Well how’s that going to work out for Rio when every story is about its pollution, crime, and corruption? Social media posts from athletes have been overwhelmingly negative with some flat out refusing to participate. The other examples cited in this article at least generally cast their home country in a positive light and still failed to live up to the economic payoff promised. Now take those negatives and apply them to the fact that Rio is essentially showcasing what an undesirable place it is to be to the rest of the world. These Olympics could wind up setting the city and the entire country of Brazil back a decade, or even more.

So is there a solution? Yes. Is it perfect? No. Host sites should bid on individual events or packages of events for which they already have the infrastructure built. As cities emerge to compete on the global level, they can build the structures they choose to bid for the events they feel could be the most beneficial for constant use with the possibility of hosting in the future. This makes the event a true global spectacle with events happening all around the world all tied back to one overriding cause. This scenario also brings back in play the economic benefits of host sites. Without billions and billions of overhead to offset, the increase in spending may actually wind up paying off. If tourists are avoiding Olympic cities due to large crowds, maybe smaller groups of events would actually attract them. The largest problem to solve in this scenario is how to handle the opening and closing ceremonies, but it’s a problem that could more than likely be solved for less than the $16 billion venues are paying now to host the event.

The world is more connected than ever and the Olympic Committee needs to realize this and adapt accordingly. The citizens in some of these countries, this year in Brazil especially, are feeling abandoned when they live in poverty yet their government somehow finds more than $10 billion to build a stadium that will be used for three weeks. Maybe this year will be the tipping point. Maybe the pollution and the broken promises for Rio will be a wake-up call for organizers that the Olympics can be and have been a detriment more often than not for their hosts, but they have been historically resistant to change. Almost as resistant as the super bacteria in Brazil’s water are to antibiotics.

We’re Energy Hungry Monsters - Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg (VIDEO)

We’re energy hungry monsters. We’re thoughtless consumers and we waste way too much electricity. If we keep this up, the whole planet will suffer, and if developing countries copy us, it’s a disaster, right? Dead Wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Remembering Milton Friedman DVD Giveaway

Help us to celebrate the 104th birthday of the greatest gift to the free world, Milton Friedman. Our gift to you, in honor of the Nobel Prize winning economist, are two (2) FREE DVDs exploring the life and ideas of Dr. Friedman, “The Power of Choice” and “Testing Milton Friedman.” 

Simply visit the web store, add the DVDs to your cart, and enter the promo code: “MiltonBDay” (you will be responsible for shipping and handling). 

Supplies are limited, so act now!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Labor Unions Wreaking Havoc In This Modern Day Economy

by: Charles Santini

I just watched a labor union destroy my town. They didn’t break windows over scab workers or anything like that. They did however, dig in so hard and so ferociously on policies that would have made their employer, well soon to be former employer, uncompetitive in the industry. The irony of the situation is, that had a new manufacturing plant opened here, offering the wages and terms submitted to the union in these latest rounds of negotiations, they would have been welcomed with open arms. Not only is the current union not opening its arms, they are lopping them off to spite the rest of their body. The final negotiation deadline has now come and gone. The jobs and company will soon go with it, along with my city; all in the name of holding on to a labor structure, which once served a purpose, but is now the personification of stubbornness and greed.

I am not some distant bystander. I used to be in a union, two in fact, and I hated every second of it. One was so pointless and powerless, the fact that they collected union dues from me was borderline robbery. The second, was so powerful and over-reaching I constantly found myself in awe of the incompetence it encouraged from the employee base. I watched several fireable offenses (if theft from a co-worker is not one, then I don’t know what is) get swept under the rug as consequences from the administration received pushback from the union. The elected officials within the group protected their friends and the ones with the most seniority, and anyone who disagreed with that or a newer hire was left to fend for themselves. I gave two unions a chance. Two let me down, and another one is about to fail the 100,000 people who live in my city.

The manufacturing facility here once employed over 10,000 workers at its peak. That number is now down closer to 3,000. I am not proposing that the 70% drop is completely attributable to the union presence. Unfavorable state tax regulations as well as international competition contributed to a lot of it as jobs moved to India, while some stayed domestic and moved to Texas, which has more business friendly taxation. My blame of the unions comes in to how they responded to those challenges.

Running a business is not simple, but the philosophy behind it is. Find a product people want for a price they are willing to pay. If you are failing, adapt or die. If you cannot adapt in business, you are left with nothing. The philosophy for the union who remained here to represent the already depleted workforce, who have no idea how to run a business, read more along the lines of, dig in, ask for more, and don’t negotiate. Who was left to work at the plant after jobs began to leave? It certainly wasn’t the 20 or 30 somethings, looking to support a family. The union didn’t protect them. It wasn’t the most productive employees who wanted to see the plant succeed and worked the hardest. It was the union leaders and the people with the most time accumulated who made the most money. That is the only group of people a union protects and will ever protect.

Those who back unions and support unions only seem to look at it from one side, higher wages and better benefits; a short sighted and self-serving purpose. What they fail to grasp is how an economy, or a single business for that matter, functions. Let’s take a look at a theoretical scenario using the local facility here. Once work moved partially to India and Texas, as it did, let’s say the company was left with enough contracted business to justify one million dollars in labor expenses. (An absurdly low number, but easy to work with.) It would be the view of the union to protect only the top ten workers, if they made $100,000, putting a significant strain on the possible output of the facility. This is in contrast to supporting and protecting a hundred jobs paying $10,000 per year, effectively increasing the output and efficiency of the facility.

The numbers in this scenario are exaggerated, but the conclusions and the real world results are not. The manufacturing facility in my town will leave. It may have left at some point anyway, but it would have been a slower process giving displaced workers and the region time to adapt. The writing has been on the wall here for years, and the local union leaders are apparently the only ones who haven’t seen it. Now the process has simply been accelerated. They will leave in one foul swoop. I’m certain of it. One of the terms that unions like the throw out there in their press releases is ‘good faith’. Well, that’s a door that swings both ways. In business, if you don’t adapt, you die. There appears to be several funerals on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

We’re Selfish Consumers Who Waste Too Much Electricity - Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg (VIDEO)

In rich countries, we buy more, we travel anywhere, and the planet pays the price. It’s obvious that the richer we get, the more we damage the environment. Dead wrong. In this short video clip, Free To Choose Media Executive Editor and Cato Institute Senior Fellow Johan Norberg explains. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Epidemic Of Misinformation

Does anyone else remember when a child placing their hands over their ears and exclaiming “La la la, I can’t hear you. La la la” was a sign of immaturity? From recent experiences it seems that lately, that type of behavior is not only tolerated, but encouraged on social media. We are entering election season, which means political posts are flooding many of our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but the posts, memes, and videos we are inundated with daily are missing one key feature. The majority are completely devoid of facts, and no one cares.

A recent study conducted by Columbia University and the National French Institute showed that 59 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. The study went on to find that not only are people blindly sharing the content, but their followers are blindly accepting it and allowing it to shape their political views, only reading the headline or quick summary. The posts are designed to attract gullible tech users into clicking the link, so that the “writers” can get paid for people seeing the ads placed on the page. The unintended consequence of these posts is the manipulation of the free market of ideas. We are all free to establish our own views and make our own decisions, but the well where the majority of Americans are going get the information to support those claims is poisoned with ‘clickbait’ and flat out lies.

No, these articles, if you can call them that, should not be banned. They should not be filtered from our feeds. They should be prominently displayed when we log on as examples of what happens when we hold ourselves to low standards. These posts get widely circulated amongst groups of people who walk around with blinders, wanting to hear no other sides of the story than the one they believe to be true. They are the same people who start arguments in the comments of one of your posts, but never reply when you present your side. They want none of it. They already have it figured out and no other opinions are valid.

We surround ourselves with the people who are most like us. It’s the natural social structure, but it is to our detriment when we shut ourselves off to ideas that challenge our own. Discussions about politics and religion that differ from your own, when done respectfully, only enrich one’s world view. They give us a better understanding of others, advance your personal self, and advance society. The perpetuation of one’s own views by only like-minded people breeds only ignorance. Have you ever seen an aerial view of North Korea at night, compared to its neighboring countries? That is what happens when opposing viewpoints are dismissed, only for the sake of being different.

If you’ve made it this far in the article, then you are clearly not the type of person I’m referring to. You click on an article and read it to the end, a rare feat in today’s world. So what’s the point? The point is; challenge people. Do not sit idly by while someone you know shares a link you know is clearly misinformation. Hold them to a higher standard. Force them to think. Clicking ‘like’ or ‘share’ can be performed by a chimpanzee. Typing a thought out response to someone fires up a different part of the brain, a part that is not on display very often anymore, it seems.